Sunday, July 1, 2007

A cliche day~

Julia Cameron says in her book "The Artist's Way" that writers should get out once a week for a couple of hours, and do something just for themselves. Whatever it is they like best, from wandering through a museum to hiking a trail, just do it-- alone.

I read "The Artist's Way" only recently, but I've been treating myself to these outings for a long time. Time spent by myself rejuvenates my soul.

Today, a day so clear and cool that it felt more like May than early July, I biked to the next town to a conservation area I'd seen. The clouds were so beautiful they held my gaze more than the roadway.

All the while, I wrote in my head-- something I've done most of my life. I describe what I see as if I'm reading it in a book. But I couldn't for the life of me think of anything other than clichés to describe the magnificent cumulus clouds.

They were cotton candy, foamy billows on a blue sea, marshmallow fluff, frosting, whipped cream, meringue, even Santa's beard (which might not be a cliché, but there's a good reason for that).

That's when I thought about my friend Gary.
His aversion to clichés is legendary on the writing workshop
we belong to. Maybe he'd have a fresh, new phrase.

I wandered in a field of Queen Ann's lace and milkweed, where the sweet scent of clover (cliché) mingled with the hum of bees (cliché) nuzzling blossoms for nectar, played their parts in the never ending "birds and the bees" drama.

Down by the river, water surged over rocks through a culvert under the road. I waded in for pictures, rather than daintily stepping on the slippery river rocks.

All the clichés were there: fragile spider webs, flickering shadows, a symphony of birdsong, a burbling stream. I sat on the rocks and absorbed nature like a thirsty sponge (cliché) until it was time to head home.

On the homestretch, the last mile, I pedaled hard, feeling the burn in my quads and glutes, feeling my heart race. I pulled into the driveway, breathing hard.

The words from the old hymn, penned by Horatio Spafford flooded my mind: "It is well, it is well with my soul."


Gary said...

Interesting, isn't it, that cliches are cliches because they are distinctive cultural short-hand?

"Cotton candy clouds" works perfectly for those of us who have been to a fair, but, if you were to use that phrase in a discussion with a fellow visiting from South Africa who had only recently experienced cotton candy, he would think you a master of metaphor.

Does a cliche have a discernible lifetime? I think so, which means we should avoid them so that our grandchildren might understand what we write.

Otherwise it'd be like talking to a brick wall, and the little fellows would have ants in their pants because things would be about as clear as mud. That would put them between a rock and a hard place, obviously. But blood is thicker than water, and we know even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then, and my gut reaction is to lighten up because I'm probably making a mountain out of a mole hill.

~ Gary

Ruth D~ said...

Ahhhh, Gary, Gary, Gary . . . You're a hot ticket. Oooops!

Dawn said...

Wonderful new and original use of ummm cliches! I think that is acceptable. :) Glad your day was so perfect.


Heather said...

I love the clouds pic!

Ruth D~ said...

Thanks, Heather. You should have seen them in real life!

Bob Sanchez said...

Cliches, even though we ought to avoid them in our writing, are actually quite useful in conversation, helping it flow more easily.